Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Myanmar refugees gravitating to Fort Morgan, Colo.

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 15, 2012

Fort Morgan, Colo. Is still an active site of refugee secondary migration with refugees from Myanmar now settling to the city. Somali refugees began arriving in 2005. The main draw is a Cargill slaughterhouse and meat-packing industrial operation, and that many of the jobs need little English language ability. Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains based in Denver has a sub-office in Fort Morgan. An article in the Fort Morgan Times explains:

Morgan County residents may not have seen the faces of refugees from Burma often, but they could become a part of the increasingly diverse area.

About 25 to 30 refugees from Burma are working at the Cargill Meat Solutions beef plant now, although they are having a hard time finding places to live in Fort Morgan, said Ryan Gray, sub-office director for Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains, during a meeting of various agencies that were discussing refugee services in Morgan County Tuesday…

Colorado has seen an influx of these refugees over the last four years, with about 2,300 in the state now, he said.

Their primary resettlement area is in Denver, [Joe Wismann-Horther of Colorado Refugee Services] said.

They are not being resettled directly to Fort Morgan, he emphasized.

They are attracted to the area for jobs at the beef plant, and because they are used to small towns and rural areas, Wismann-Horther said.

In fact, government agencies try to encourage refugees to stay in the areas where they are first placed, but the lure of relatively high-paying jobs is strong, he said.

“It’s not something we can control,’ Wismann-Horther said.

Some of the refugees from Burma may have worked at the Greeley JBS Swift plant and are now working for Cargill, he said.

Those moving into Fort Morgan are finding the rental market tight, but the Greeley rental market is tight, too, Wismann-Horther said…

There had been a small group of refugees from Burma who were in Fort Morgan previously, but they did not stay, said Brenda Zion, executive director of OneMorgan County.

This group looks more likely to stay, she said.

Some of them lived in Greeley for about three years, Gray said… Read more here

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